The Ultimate Guide to Káli-medence, Hungary

Wonderguide by

Viktor Grasztity

The Ultimate Guide to Káli-medence, Hungary

The Káli-medence (Káli Basin) is a local secret that hasn't been discovered by tourists yet. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and experience the rustic charm of the Hungarian countryside, visit these mind-blowingly beautiful landscapes and villages with the weirdest names.

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In the 80s and 90s, Szentbékkálla (pronounced sent-bake-cal-la) became one of the centers of rural tourism in Hungary drawing travelers into the Káli Basin with its rustic charm and wide choice in accommodation. It is also one of the central villages of the basin, so it is a great starting point for hiking tours and leisurely walks to neighboring villages.

Image - Kálvária kereszt
Kálvária kereszt
Viktor:Whitewashed crosses are a common architectural and religious artifact in the Káli Basin. This charming little Calvary can be found on the way to the Sea of Stones from Szentbékkálla. It depicts the stations of the cross. However, only one station has a picture in it
Image - Sea of Stones, Szentbékkálla
Sea of Stones, Szentbékkálla
Viktor:The Sea of Stones in Szentbékkálla is the most intact, naturally-occurring group of rocks in the Káli Basin. It was formed more than 8 million years ago, and now it serves as a reminder of the primeval lakes and seas that once were found here. Today it is home to several species of plants, such as different kinds of moss, wild flowers and mushrooms. The cavities in the rocks collect rainwater and function as bird baths. When reading about it, it sounds a bit unimpressive, but in real life the Sea of Stones expands across a really vast territory, and the number and diversity of the rock formations has a real wow factor. This is definitely one of the top sights in the Káli Basin located only an easy, 15-minute walk away from the village of Szentbékkálla
Image - Eötvös Károly kilátó
Eötvös Károly kilátó
Viktor:From Szentbékkálla, you can reach the Eötvös Károly Look-out Tower in half an hour. The path goes uphill with beautiful views of the Káli Basin. On the way, you can pass by small lakes
Image - Töttöskáli templomrom
Töttöskáli templomrom
Viktor:The ruins of the Töttöskáli Church next to Szentbékkálla offer beautiful views
Image - Pegazus
Viktor:Pegazus is one of the coolest eateries in the Káli Basin serving Hungarian dishes, grilled meats and cheeses with proper vegetarian options. The special thing about this place, besides the great vibes, the good food and the super friendly staff, is the exhibition space inside the building, where young contemporary artists can show their work throughout the summer
Image - Öreghegy étterem és fogadó
Öreghegy étterem és fogadó
Viktor:Öreghegy is a traditional Hungarian restaurant in Szentbékkálla, where they greet you with a sincere smile the minute you enter. There is outdoor seating too. They serve simple, but tasty food and wines at reasonable prices. Great experience. Open everyday
Image - Barbara Presszó
Barbara Presszó
Viktor:Barbara Presszó is the only place in the Káli Basin that is open in the morning. You can have breakfast and coffee in the shade of the trees
Image - Villa Kála
Villa Kála
Viktor:Villa Kála is a beautiful boutique hotel in Szentbékkálla with great interior design
Image - Ferenc Ház
Ferenc Ház
Viktor:This 5-bedroom house is able to accommodate up to 12 people. It has 2 bathrooms, 2 fully-equipped kitchens with dining areas, a living room and a huge garden. Perfect for big groups
Image - Eszter Panzió és Étterem
Eszter Panzió és Étterem
Viktor:This bed and breakfast has rooms for 2 or 3 people. Each room has its own bathroom. It isn't anything fancy, so don't expect much, but it's relatively cheap and serves the purpose
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Mindszentkálla (pronounced meend-sent-cal-la) is only a 30-minute walk away from Szentbékkálla. On the way there you can pass by the Calvary Cross, and you can visit the Sea of Stones to work up your appetite for some well-deserved ice cream

Image - Káli kapocs
Káli kapocs
Viktor:Káli kapocs is a hipster bar and eatery in Mindszentkálla. Open Friday to Sunday
Image - Kő Fagyi?
Kő Fagyi?
Viktor:Some Hungarians claim that Kő Fagyi? has the best ice cream in the world. While these claims remain unconfirmed, it is definitely safe to say that this artisan ice cream parlor is definitely the best in the Káli Basin praised by travelers, foodies and local restauranteurs alike. Try some of their traditional and more unusual scoops, such as wine-flavored ice cream
Image - Mezítkáli-Mezítlábas-Mászkáló
Viktor:At this park/playground/garden in Mindszentkálla you can walk barefoot on nearly 30 different kinds of dry surfaces. Family-friendly. Open only in the summer


Köveskál (pronounced koo-vesh-cal) has some of the best restaurants in the Káli Basin, so it is worth taking an hour-long walk to explore this charming village and try some Hungarian dishes and wines

Image - Városkút és mosóház
Városkút és mosóház
Viktor:This village well and wash house in Köveskál is a reminder of past times, when people didn't have running water in their homes and doing laundry was a communal activity
Image - Kővirág Panzió és Étterem
Kővirág Panzió és Étterem
Viktor:Kővirág is one of the best restaurants in the Káli Basin. They serve traditional Hungarian food with a modern twist. Make sure to try their reinterpreted cottage cheese dumplings. Reservations are recommended especially in the summer. They also operate a guesthouse next door in a fully-restored thatched-roof cottage
Image - Mi a Kő
Mi a Kő
Viktor:Cozy, family-style restaurant in Köveskál with young staff. Reservations are recommended especially in the summer
Image - Palffy Pince
Palffy Pince
Viktor:Pálffy is one of the best wineries in the Káli Basin. Pop in to buy a bottle or sit down on their terrace to enjoy a glass or two
Image - Supermarket
Viktor:This is one of the very few grocery stores in the Káli Basin. Their product range is pretty basic. However, the store itself is in a communist-style building and the interior hasn't been changed since the 80s either, so shopping here feels a little bit like time travel
Image - Hegyestű Geológiai Bemutatóhely
Hegyestű Geológiai Bemutatóhely
Viktor:Roughly an hour's walk away from Köveskál, the Hegyestű Hill is the entrance to the Káli Basin. Stairs lead the way uphill, and from the top you can see the whole basin in all its glory


Balatonhenye (pronounced bah-lah-ton-hen-yeh) is the perfect place for hiking. Surrounded by low hills, you can admire the splendid views of the Káli Basin, the picturesque pastures and forests, and the many old trees scattered in and around the village

Image - Monostori-tó
Viktor:The Monostori Lake is an easy walk away from Balatonhenye. Don't expect to see any water though, because it is almost completely overgrown with reed and peat moss, which gives it its unique charm
Image - Bio Kertészet
Bio Kertészet
Viktor:This organic farm offers the freshest seasonal vegetables and fruit available. If you're lucky enough, the farmer might take you to the garden and let you pick the produce yourself. Seeing the simple country life these people lead is really a touching experience. In 2020, they are planning to open a breakfast place in their front yard


Beyond its natural sights, Kővágóörs (pronounced koooo-vah-go-ersh) was once the center of Jewish communities in the Káli Basin. Its Jewish heritage lives on in its abandoned Synagogue on the brink of collapse and the neatly-restored Jewish cemetery.

Image - Kővágóőrsi kőhát
Kővágóőrsi kőhát
Viktor:This is a smaller sea of stones in Kővágóörs, although it is equally interesting
Image - Kornyi-tó
Viktor:The Kornyi Lake in Kővágóörs is also a characteristic lake of the Káli Basin overgrown with reed
Image - Emberi komédia
Emberi komédia
Viktor:This sculpture of Hungarian artist Imre Veszprémi reminds some of Stonehenge. It is located on top of a small hill right next to the Kornyi Lake
Image - Sóstókáli templomrom
Sóstókáli templomrom
Viktor:The ruins of the Sóstókáli Church can be found between Kővágóörs and Köveskál
Image - Zsinagóga
Viktor:This abandoned Synagogue in Kővágóörs is a sad reminder of the once thriving Jewish communities living in the Káli Basin before WWII. Today it is privately owned. Therefore, it is very difficult to start its restoration due to financial disputes. There is a human-sized hole in the fence, so the adventurous may dare to enter the premises and have a closer look at the building inside and out. Be careful though, because it is in very bad shape
Image - Kővágóörsi izraelita temető
Kővágóörsi izraelita temető
Viktor:The Jewish Cemetery in Kővágóörs was renewed a few years ago, so it is in a much better condition than the Synagogue


Sample some cheese and ice cream, visit a traditional village home, and go on a hike to learn about the nature, everyday history and life today in and around the charming little village of Kékkút (pronounced cake-koot).

Image - Kékkúti kecskefarm
Kékkúti kecskefarm
Viktor:Get up close and personal with some of the cutest goats you've ever seen at this goat farm in Kékkút. They make delicious goat cheese in different flavors including traditional French-style chevre, as well as goat milk ice cream with lavender or fruits. It's so tasty you'll want to buy one of everything. Great experience
Image - Theodora-forrás
Viktor:The Theodora Spring in Kékkút is the starting point of the Theodora Educational Hiking Trail. The 8 km circular trail offers a pleasant walk to nature lovers interested in the geology and the flora and fauna of the Káli Basin. It has 15 stops including the Kornyi Lake in Kővágóörs. There are informational boards at each stop in English, and you can also get a map at the Theodora Mineral Water Bottling Plant right behind the spring
Image - Tájház
Viktor:This so-called Tájház is the oldest family house in the Káli Basin. It was built in 1799, and now it functions as a countryside museum showcasing the everyday life of locals, who used to work in agriculture

Cool factor outside the Káli Basin

Just outside the Káli Basin these unique summer festivals and museum are definitely worth checking out if you have the time.

Image - Önkéntes Bázis Művészetek Völgye
Önkéntes Bázis Művészetek Völgye
Viktor:The Valley of Arts festival takes place in 3 neighboring villages just outside the Káli Basin. It is mainly a performing arts festival with very close ties to the local community. It started with the aim of reviving these aging villages and attracting travelers to the region. The Valley of Arts is unlike most summer music festivals you have been to: it doesn't follow trends and it is dedicated to the slow enjoyment of the beautiful countryside
Image - Hello Wood Project Village
Hello Wood Project Village
Viktor:Hello Wood is an architecture and visual arts festival just outside the Káli Basin, where professional architects and artists, students and volunteers gather to create structures, sculptures and everything art made of wood. Anyone can visit the project village to have a look at the houses and artwork, and thanks to the Valley of Arts next door you can stumble upon impromptu concerts next to these contemporary pieces in the middle of nature
Image - Első Magyar Látványtár
Első Magyar Látványtár
Viktor:This unpretentious art museum hosts one exhibition each year, which never disappoints. Usually the exhibitions are built around a dominant concept

Wonderguide map

  1. Kálvária kereszt
  2. Sea of Stones, Szentbékkálla
  3. Eötvös Károly kilátó
  4. Töttöskáli templomrom
  5. Pegazus
  6. Öreghegy étterem és fogadó
  7. Barbara Presszó
  8. Villa Kála
  9. Ferenc Ház
  10. Eszter Panzió és Étterem
  11. Káli kapocs
  12. Kő Fagyi?
  13. Mezítkáli-Mezítlábas-Mászkáló
  14. Városkút és mosóház
  15. Kővirág Panzió és Étterem
  16. Mi a Kő
  17. Palffy Pince
  18. Élelmiszer
  19. Hegyestű Geológiai Bemutatóhely
  20. Monostori-tó
  21. Bio Kertészet
  22. Kővágóőrsi kőhát
  23. Kornyi-tó
  24. Emberi komédia
  25. Sóstókáli templomrom
  26. Zsinagóga
  27. Kővágóörsi izraelita temető
  28. Kékkúti kecskefarm
  29. Theodora-forrás
  30. Tájház
  31. Önkéntes Bázis Művészetek Völgye
  32. Hello Wood Project Village
  33. Első Magyar Látványtár

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